While most of us have experienced stinky feet, the commonality of this issue fails to relieve the embarrassment. Fortunately, cures for smelly feet exist.
Causes of Smelly Feet
Scientifically known as bromodosis, having conditionally stinky feet results from various causes. However, the primary culprit is sweat. The bodyβs sweat glands function to keep skin moist and supple and to regulate body temperature. Your feet contain more sweat glands than anywhere else in the body. In fact, approximately a million sweat glands exist in these two appendages.
These glands differ in their continuous secretion, not just in response to heat or exercise. Combined with the warm, moist environment of socks and shoes, bacteria and fungi thrive. Bacteria break down the sweat released on the feet and odor is produced. In other words, embarrassing bromodosis results from decomposed sweat. Really, this makes sense as nothing smells pretty when decomposing.
Some conditions exacerbate stinky feet, including:
- Poor personal hygiene.
- Hormonal changes, particularly in teens and pregnant women.
- Hyperhidrosis, a condition causing increased sweat.
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Cures for Smelly Feet
The good news proclaims solutions for stinky feet. Yes, smelly feet treatments exist. Eliminating your unique aroma calls you to attack two fronts at the same time.
The Source of the Issue: Your Feet
A thorough washing of your feet on a daily basis and, if needed, during the day reduces the bacteria and therefore, the odor. Thorough drying proves equally important to avoid adding to the moist breeding ground for bacteria. Be sure to clean and dry between your toes well.
Using a spray antiperspirant on your feet functions to reduce sweat and combat odor. The theory is the same as with underarm products. In fact, underarm deodorants and antiperspirants prove equally compelling as a cure for stinky feet as specialized foot sprays. Products containing aluminum chloride hexahydrate work best.
Should you choose to purchase a product specifically made for your feet, the same ingredient proves best to eliminate excess sweating. In either case, spray formulas provide for easy application. Be sure the product dries before walking and be cautious as antiperspirants create slick surfaces.
Some home remedies work as a smelly feet cure. Odor dissipates, at least temporarily. However, experts question their use as a long-term solution. When combined with the lifestyle changes described below, actual odor reduction results.
Distilled white vinegar proves to be a superpower when it comes to inhibiting bacteria. Soaking feet in a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water reduces odor-causing bacteria.
This cure for stinky feet remains one of the most effective. Steeping four to five tea bags in a quart of hot water, allowing the tea to cool and then soaking feet for 20 minutes per day does the trick.
Salt properties lend to its ability to cleanse and purify. Soaking smelly feet in a half cup kosher salt, four cups of water solution rids your piggies of bacteria. A 10 to 15-minute soak and thorough dry render results. Epsom salts provide an alternative to kosher salt.
Sodas and powders have long been used on infant bottoms and in refrigerators to absorb moisture and smell. The underlying concept works to cure smelly feet as well. Baking soda, cornstarch, baby powder or talcum powder can be applied to the feet. While foot powders are available over the counter, home options may work just as well without added chemicals.
The Enemy: Foot Coverings
While the above cures for stinky feet bring odor relief, your hard work and accomplishment can be undone the moment you slip into shoes and socks to head out the door. Giving equal attention to the things you put on your feet is vital in holding off the stink.
Synthetic materials lessen breathability. And, yes, your skin needs to breathe, even on your feet. Buying socks crafted from natural materials allows for ventilation and limits bacterial growth. Materials such as polyester and nylon increase perspiration and, you guessed it, foot odor. Cotton and wool offer your feet comfortable, breathable protection.
As mentioned under personal hygiene, cleanliness goes a long way in curing smelly feet. Socks must be changed daily - to a clean pair, not the ones from two days ago still lying on the family room floor. Depending on your activity level, you may want to switch socks more than once per day. Worn socks trap layers of moisture and dead skin. This build up should not be put back on your feet. To clean socks thoroughly, wash them inside out.
Similar principles apply to your shoes.
- Choose breathable materials.
- Rotate your shoes daily.
- Air out shoes between wearings.
- Use antibacterial or odor-absorbing sprays in shoes. (see above)
- Wash according to the care instructions and dry thoroughly.
- Consider odor-neutralizing insoles.
If odor or other symptoms persist, consult a doctor. Infections, diabetes and other conditions complicate foot care. However, in most cases, knowing what cures smelly feet puts you on your way to odor-free piggies.